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No Influx of Sick Patients, Says Study

Posted on September 26, 2012 by admin

Obamacare would bring out many sick patients. It was inevitable; there was no doubting it.

That’s what the masses said, what they believed, and at the time, their logic seemed flawless. Since the Affordable Care Act was designed in part to help those who couldn’t afford insurance attain it, it stands to reason that the previously uninsured might have had preexisting conditions, or below average health, because of it. By giving them access to medical services, it was assumed that there would be an influx of sick patients there for check-ups or preventive care.

A telling study from athenahealth.com says otherwise.

Focusing on Q1 2013 and Q1 2014 for commercially insured patients between 18 and 64 years old, athenahealth.com reveals that neither the new patients nor the established patients who visited the primary care physicians used in this study saw notable increases in the diagnosis rates of chronic conditions. The conditions followed were diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

From year to year, be it a new patient or an established one, changes in the diagnosis rates of a chronic condition were only a fraction of a percentage point, many times being just a .1 percent change, such as seen in new patients with diabetes – from five-point-two percent in 2013 to five-point-three percent in 2014. And some fluctuations were actually decreases in the rate of diagnosis: in 2013, only seven-point-one percent of new patients were diagnosed with high cholesterol, which decreased in 2014 to six-point-nine percent.

Though Americans across the country are still waiting to hear the number of new enrollees who were previously uninsured and didn’t just switch from another plan – as this would provide the best insight into the kind of influx the nation can expect this year – this study provides preliminary evidence against multiple popular beliefs. Another such case was that most everyone believed that waiting times would soar, that hospitals would be filled to the proverbial brim with new patients. However, months into 2014, athenahealth.com’s study shows the problem of assumption with real facts and figures. Furthermore, with all of the enrollment deadlines in the past at this point, one can expect that there will be little change to this pleasant surprise of a circumstance until next year’s enrollment period.

It seems that with every passing week, Obamacare still holds aces up its sleeve, surprises for all of those who believe they know what’s going to happen next. If anything, the ACA has shown the danger of assumption. And with the number of patients staying balanced in the first half of 2014, you can imagine that even dissenters of the law are happy to see the Affordable Care Act keep chaos away from the nation’s hospitals.